Kitchen Sink Pants

New pants! Brace yourself; the following contains a lot of words but not necessarily a lot of information.

These are my kitchen sink pants (as in ‘everything but the’). Here’s a quick rundown of their features:

  1. A faced front with a center fly zipper.
  2. Elasticated back waistband.
  3. Back darts.
  4. Single-layer pockets with faced inseam openings.
  5. D-ring straps for cinching.
  6. Mild balloon legs.

Of that list, item 1, a jeans-style center fly opening-plus-faced front sans waistband, was the one that kept me up o’ nights. Ever since sewing a faced pair of paper bag pants I wondered how to actually get the zipper to go to the top and finish everything nicely. The answer: I don’t know. The result: somehow very, very tidy. ??!!?? Ordinarily when I have trouble describing a technique in words alone I whip up a technical illustration, but I felt my way through this process, and I understand neither what nor how anything I did. What a terrible start to a post, ha!

I sifted through a lot of internet to find this tutorial for a front fly/front facing. I read through it several times and then went ahead and sewed my zip the same way I always do, only to end up unpicking the top three or four inches of my topstitching (the center seam edgestitching and the straight vertical part of the ‘J’ around the fly extension) and redoing it after adding the facings. It’s not particularly obvious in this dark tone-and-tone thread, but follow the wise advice found at that link, because my way was bad. The universe graciously forebore and it all worked out, but there’s no particular reason why it should have.

The pattern is also uncertain – I smushed together my PA Morella trousers with my traced Madewell balloon jeans, but I didn’t use any specific lines from either. I laid them in a stack under some tracing paper and drew new lines based on my feelings, usually somewhere between the two. This is so contrary to the organized way I usually work, and I don’t plan on rebranding myself as an intuitive artiste, but I guess I’ve made enough pants for myself that navigating by feel was a reasonably effective process. Still, yikes.

The flat faced front/back waistband technique is all Morellas. I ended up cutting my front facings twice, because the center zip complicated the process. The first time I cut them without additional seam allowance at the center. When I went to attach them, it felt like a mistake, so I recut and reinterfaced with more SA, only to trim to the original size when sewing. Again, I’m expressing this poorly because I understand it poorly. I’d like to sew another pair of pants with this feature (it’s so SO so SO comfortable to wear) and maybe take pictures that time, to really get the practice cemented in my mind.

You might have seen the pin these were based on, by the way. It’s this one below – I couldn’t find any other images of the pants, but I tried to copy what I could see. I decided to add elastic to the back instead of relying entirely on the straps for cinching because I thought it would sit more evenly (I was throwing all my spaghetti at the wall anyway), so I didn’t get those pleats but otherwise – yeah?? 

In case you were wondering why darts + elastic (surely choose one), it’s because there’s darts in the picture! And that’s it!

The rectangle rings are leftover from my Raspberry Rucksack, by the way! I sewed the straps to match their measurements.

My single best innovation was adding a buttonhole in the fly shield so I could sew a button to the inside waistband and the layers would sit flat when worn. Game changer. I’m the Banksy of fly shields (no I’m not, but I am disproportionately excited about it).

Hopefully these interior shots will supplement my complete lack of explanation!

You can actually see the shape of the single-layer pocket bag there – that line of topstitching basically vanished completely.

I used 8 oz. denim (Kaufman per ush), which was light enough that all the hoopla at the waist didn’t get too thick, but perfectly suitable for pants. I almost bought 6 oz. but that would have been pushing it, I think. Anyway I’m very happy with the fabric. I used the selvedge on the edge of the fly shield and the edge of my pocket facings, which look like nothing on earth in a photograph, but function perfectly well!

Lest you think I think I am a pants savant, I forgot to reshape the hem allowance to angle outwards, so when I folded them up, the hems were slightly smaller than the diameter of the legs. I eased them together but the hems are *almost* gathered as a result. Tsk. I said tsk!

If you’re wondering where I’ve been hiding this fireplace: alas, this is not my apartment, but a very chic AirBnB (this one, well worth a look!!). These are the last of our vacation shots. Someday I’ll go on a vacation without needing a haircut. Someday!!

Anyway, I sort of expected these trouser-jeans to be clown pants but actually they ended up staid! But I really like them! I’m still nervous about *how* I made them (the word “mushy” comes to mind – mushy pattern, mushy understanding) but I’m finding them quite easy to wear.

And now I want to add hardware to everything. EVERYTHING.

Next up, July. Blergh. See you there!

Pattern: No pattern??

Pattern cost: NA

Size: ??

Supplies: 2 yards of Indigo Washed 8 oz. denim, $25.20, Gather Here; 7″ zipper, 1.5″ non-roll elastic, $4.59, Gather Here; thread, rectangle rings from stash

Total time: 8.5 hours

Total cost: $29.75

Morella Pants

So that was quite a start to the year. Not exactly surprising, but unexpected. I’m talking of course about Joel Kim Booster’s saucy take on Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me re: men sewing. Just kidding! My capitol got sacked! Anyway – pants!!

I love my normal high, hard, tight pants, but please welcome to the closet, my first pair of woven lounge pants. I sewed them in November (the week of the US election, in fact) and I’ve been wearing them indoors a lot, and outdoors whenever it’s warm enough. These are the Pauline Alice Morella pants. The only version of them seemingly anywhere is a terrific ramie pair by Heathery Makes. She was the first share-r of this pattern and a pants pioneer!

I find my usual pants totally comfortable under usual circumstances, but I was inspired to try the trend for comfy-waist pants because I had shingles. People! Yuck!! In addition to the skin stuff on my belly and back, my nearby lymph nodes hurt like a fresh bruise, and all my pants pressed on both. I sewed these post-shingles (I’m better now, whoo) but it’s nice to have variety.

I picked this pattern because the pockets both intrigued and confused me. I’m lucky that Heather made and shared her pair, because I followed her advice and also because it gave me faith these pockets would work out. I couldn’t visualize the process, not one little bit. That said, it worked great! The first pocket was a fun challenge and a journey of faith that took about an hour. I sewed the second pocket in half that time, and I didn’t need the directions. It’s a cool technique! I like sewing that uses precise measuring and clipping. It’s high-stakes. Perfect for adrenaline junkies. Jason Statham clips to but not through the stitching line, all day, every day. 

I still couldn’t describe precisely how it’s undertaken – definitely one of those things that’s easier to do than say – but here’s my notes. One, yes, you should construct the whole back of the pants first. It seems like a lot of extra fabric to have flapping around, but it’s necessary. Two, when matching the pants front + pocket to the pants back – you need to flip the pocket. I know that doesn’t make sense now, but hopefully it will at the time. It’s not exactly “The only water in the forest is the river”, but flip the pocket.

I sewed the pocket corners in a single pass (as Heather recommended), and I reinforced the corners with a second line of stitching before clipping. This will hopefully keep them intact for a long time to come, and also made it easier to see where to cut. My thread was a perfect match for the wrong side of the fabric. I often try to match from my existing thread rack, but just-right tone-on-tone makes me purr.

I had some uncharacteristic anxiety about the outseam where it meets the pocket opening (hint: it wasn’t actually about the outseam, cough cough election week). I stitched that last inch three or more times. I tried a vertical and horizontal bartack and unpicked both. Eventually I added a rivet, so I wouldn’t keep thinking about popping that corner. I know, rivets in a lounge pant? It’s like walnuts in a brownie (controversial!). But I couldn’t relax in these while plagued by visions of Murray Slaughter ripping off Ted Baxter’s suit pocket. Now I can stick my hands in my pockets worry-free. Next time I sew Morellas I’d like to topstitch the pocket openings, since that edge puffs up a little, but I used self-fabric for the pocket so it’s pretty inoffensive anyway.

The elastic waist was almost my downfall! My piece of elastic was 18” long, 1” shorter than my size called for. I tried several different installation methods, none of which worked (and I had the unpicked threadball to prove it), until I remembered the True Bias Emerson pants technique. It’s simply the best way of adding elastic to a partially-elasticated waistband (mine has a folded, finished edge though)! Plus, if you want to extend the usability of your pants, you can leave extra elastic poking out past the stitch line, un-stretched, hidden by the front facing, and have inches for later. Or you could tighten it later, though that’s never been my direction of change.

I didn’t have wide enough elastic so I zig-zagged two narrower pieces together along their shared length. Predictably, the elastic wants to roll and fold, but I put a vertical line of stitching at the center back, and that keeps it flat.

I also interfaced the front self-facing as per Heather. Excellent suggestion.

The only thing I had to find out for myself was fabric requirements – Pauline Alice only lists yardage for 54” wide fabric, and I really wanted to use this Essex linen/cotton blend (Driftless: Downstream in Roasted Pecan), which is only 45” wide. I sewed a straight size 44. Sidebar, I don’t have the faintest idea of how to grade this pattern through the waist/hips. Anyway, I bought 2 2/3 yards, and I have a good few extra inches. Since I cut the back waistband on the cross-grain, I could have squeaked this out of 2 ½ yards but better safe than sorry! The pattern pieces are a little cumbersome, so I have largish scraps leftover. This fabric is great for lightweight pants (and beautiful, in my opinion), but it might be a little scratchy for masks. I’ll figure out something to use the scraps for, though!

I’d like to make a pair of these in French terry, maybe with cuffs instead of hems. They’re sweat-pants-comfy already, why not add a little sweat-pants-cozy.

Anyway, I know the home sewist is spoiled for choice right now with elastic-waist pants, but I think this pattern has a little something extra. I recommend it! If you try it and you have questions about the pockets, hit me up. And stay comfy out there!

Also – Heather and I both plan on sharing overalls in February, which she’s brilliantly dubbed “Over all this 2020 nonsense”. And I will amend slightly to add “And the first week of 2021 too”. Feel free to join us. 😀

Pattern: Pauline Alice Morella pants

Pattern cost: $9.76

Size: 44; elastic for the waist shortened to 18”

Supplies: 2 2/3 yards of Kaufman Essex cotton/linen; Driftless, Fern in Roasted Pecan, $35.91, Gather Here; thread, $2.09, Michael’s; elastic, rivets from stash

Total time: 6.75 hours

Total cost: $47.76

Sad sacks

Now that I have a blog I like to give clothes a bit of a farewell tour before gifting/donating them. Sometimes this has the opposite effect of reminding me I like them. After trying this pair of trousers with 2 buttoned shirts, 3 tanks, and a tee, and rejecting most combinations, though, I’m reminded why I don’t wear these. So long, so pants!

These are a Burda Style pattern from 2015 and if you can find a link to them you’re a better woman than I. The pattern might even be quite good (for evidence, see this wickedly stylish pair) but my iteration is…poor. Is it weird if I offer to email you the PDF, if you want? They’re functionally un-buyable, but is that crimey? Is this the dark web now?!

It’s hard to express exactly what doesn’t work for me about these, style-wise, but it’s not hard to describe what I did wrong – the zipper, the facing, the front pockets, and the pleats. That’s most of the parts. And almost the back darts.

The back darts are meant to be sewn in two passes; first the diagonal lines right at the point, then the back pockets, then most of the rest of the pants including the back facing, and then the part of the dart that attaches to the waistline. I’d never come across something like before!

I won’t say I did it *right* per say, but I did it, and I guess it worked.

The front pockets are another story. The pattern pieces were shaped like an apostrophe that seemed to have no relationship to the front leg (taller than I would have expected, with a straight vertical top section and then a bulging curve). I didn’t understand what to sew, where, so I ended up with a couple short raw edges that I bound with a scrap of rayon.

Basically, I sewed accidental facing pockets, on top of the actual pockets. I’m sure that contributes to the weird pleat, but the pleats would probably be weird either way – I mean, that diagonal line!! I don’t even know WHY. It just IS.

The zipper appears normal from the outside.

It’s not, but I’m not taking responsibility. Here’s the deeply tragic block of instructions dedicated to the zipper. I apologize for the wall of text but it’s a good visual representation of what I was banging my head against. This is presented as is, by the way – without paragraph breaks, photos, or diagrams/illustrations.

Zip slit and upper edge: Press self-facing on slit edges to inside. Stitch along center front on the right and 5 mm before center front on the left. Stitch zip under left slit edge (underlap). Pin slit closed, matching center fronts. Stitch loose zip tape to right facing, not catching shorts piece. Fold underlap piece lengthwise, right side facing in. Stitch across upper and lower ends. Turn right side out. Neaten attachment edges together. Lay underlap under left slit edge and pin to facing. Stitch facing to underlap, close to zip attachment seam. Turn right facing to outside and pin to upper edge. Pin (upper) facing to upper edge of shorts, right sides together. On right slit edge, trim away facing allowance, along center front. Stitch along upper edge of shorts.

??WHAT?? If you can understand that, may I recommend Etruscan for a light read? I can sew a fly front, but I didn’t know how to finish the top edges without the facing also obstructing the zipper action. Reader, I winged it.

More rayon binding, and a definitely odd diagonal fold on one end of the front facing. Later, I purchased M7726; their directions have the zipper end below the front facing edge. If I did that here, though, the zip would be like 3 – 4 inches long. (Can I just say, as an aside, these pants are sapping my enthusiasm for ever making that McCall’s pattern.)

Unlike the petite French lady linked above, I didn’t have enough length for a punchy cuff, so instead I made a lackluster little hem on the outside.

 I almost forgot to mention the called-for sash belt, by the way! I made one, but I periodically lose it, including right before these photos. It usually turns up somewhere, sometime, but to heck with it.

There’s enough fabric in these trousers to remake them, most likely (Brussels Washer linen, by the way; hindsight says to choose something with more body), but I think I probably just kind of won’t bother. To paraphrase Fiona Apple in her song Paper Bag (written, I assume, about these pants), these are a mess I don’t want to clean up. I’d like to be Villanelle in Oxford bags (second season not a patch on the first, though the costumes are still tip-top), but I’m not. I’ve never even murdered anybody. How embarrassing!

Anyway, I’m altogether over these, and I can give them away as-is. Hopefully their next wearer will be more forgiving.

Another quick aside – we’re still all-masks-all-the-time over here in Somerville, and I’ve embraced that same shaped mask everyone sewed. Most recently I’ve added a piece of binding top-stitched onto the nose section, as a channel for a metal nose piece, but on cold days it’s still not quite enough to prevent my glasses from fogging. Any mask-and-glasses wearers out there with innovations for winter weather?

May your pleats hang straight and your underlaps lay under the left slit edge, pinned to facing! (Again, WHAT??)

Pattern: Burda Style paper-bag pants from 2015

Pattern cost: $3.00

Size: ?? unknown (pre-spreadsheet, sorry!)

Supplies: ? yards of Kaufman Brussels Washer linen

Total time: ?

Total cost: unknown, but too much, as it turns out

Red Jeds Redemption

A bit of a thud down to earth this week, from flighty capes to good solid pants. A quick aside: I’m writing this blog post the weekend before the US general election, and it will post a couple days after, so hopefully it won’t feel totally out of step with reality. I’m hoping, in fact, reality will be heading in a more benign direction.

In the meantime, how about a trip to Canada with the Thread Theory Jedediah pants? Well, the pattern is Canadian; actually, we’re in the park at the end of our street. This is the third pair of Jeds I’ve sewn this year, and the 8th…9th?…pair I’ve sewn overall. It was also the first fly-front trouser pattern I ever made!

I was so intimidated the first time – I’m not sure exactly how long it took me, but I carefully sewed my zipper fly, flat-felled or bias-bound all the seams, and finally, nervously, forked them over to Professor Boyfriend. I had decided to start with trousers for him because he’s a nice uncomplicated long rectangle, so I thought I could focus on construction and not worry about fitting; to which I say now, HAHAHAHAHA. There was something like 4 extra inches at the waist. I took them in (inexpertly) and they were still (unsurprisingly) baggy, but wearable. Professor BF loyally wore them until they fell apart anyway. So of course I rewarded him with a second pair that was far, far too small.        

I’d like to pretend the third pair was just right, Goldilocks-style, but truthfully I’m still tweaking these every time I sew them. Now I’ve flipped-flopped – I’ve practiced enough construction that I can whip up a pair PDQ, but I’m making incremental changes to fit. Is it possible, even likely, that his body is incrementally changing over the years, also, and that my pace is too slow to keep up with reality? NO.

Anyway, I’ve cut and taped and slashed and re-taped my initial pattern so many times that it no longer has a relationship to the size chart, but it’s in the range of a 32 waist, with a generous flat seat adjustment and slimmed legs. I’m not sure if my initial fit mishaps were due to measuring error (most likely), cutting/sewing error (second), deliberate pattern ease (third), or pattern error (least likely; I’ve been happy with Thread Theory patterns in the past). They were some goofy trews though.

The pattern calls for 3ish yards of fabric, depending on fabric width, which I found to be way too much.  I can make 2 pairs of full-length pants from 3 yards, and once I even eked 1 pair of trousers and 1 pair of shorts from 2 yards, so I think most sizes could safely buy less.            

The common area for adjustment seems to be the seat seam. It’s shaped like a “J” hook, with an almost right-angled corner; I didn’t do an ‘official’ flat seat adjustment (I didn’t know what one was yet) but I slapped a wodge of paper into that corner and smoothed the curve, and it improved the fit a lot. I may have overdone it, so I’ll scoop it a *little* more next time. If you or your prospective wearer has got das booty, you might not want to make any changes at all. I also shaved down the hip curve on the front and back, which necessitated scooting the pocket over a bit, so the hand opening would remain large enough.  

I now use the CC order of construction and fly zip method; otherwise I follow the Jed directions. By the way, this is the pattern that taught me to cut my notches pointing outwards, not into the seam allowance, which I now do for everything! Even though I don’t flat-fell these seams anymore (my serger has made me complacent), it’s nice to have the option. I also LOVE the front pocket construction – it looks so tidy and professional when done right. These, however, are not quite right. Instead of pocket facings, I cut the pocket lining from the main fabric (these were a q sew – pandy pants, if you will – and all my cotton scraps had been used for masks). Predictably, the openings stretched out a bit. It’s not horrible, but a nice stable cotton pocket bag would have helped.   

The main fabric, by the way, is a vintage wool (blend?) that came from some of my oldest friends! They have an ancestress who worked in a US woolens mill, and this cranberry piece was leftover from her stash of remnants from the mill! If I had made these out of lockdown I would have purchased coordinating thread instead of cobbling together some red odds and ends, but when you gotta sew, you gotta sew.

I love this pattern for smart-casual trousers! Professor Boyfriend reports that they’re warm, comfortable, and the wool doesn’t itch at all. I’m certainly going to make more, and more, and more – I’ll probably hem them a little deeper next time, raise the pockets a ½” or so, and maybe slim the legs even more. I’m not tired of sewing them yet, and he’s not tired of wearing them. So we’ll call it a match. 😎

Pattern: Thread Theory Jedediah pants

Pattern cost: NA

Size: ???

Supplies: vintage cranberry wool, gift; thread from stash; zipper, Sewfisticated, $1.30

Total time: 5.5 hours

Total cost: $1.30

Swish swish

My machine is officially tuned up, and among other maintenance, apparently the feed dogs were way too low! But we’re reunited and it feeds so good (soz not soz). Anyway, it’s feeling and sounding great – I’m pretty sure I could Tokyo Drift in it.

My repair squeaked under the wire for the MA/RI travel restrictions. I hope our spike becomes a divot soon; I have friends and family across the border, and somehow it’s worse knowing they’re close but unavailable. Not that having family abroad and off-limits has been a comfort, exactly, but it’s a smaller contrast from the norm.

Anyway, my planned projects are stacking up on my cutting table a.k.a. my sewing table a.k.a. my eating table, but in the meantime here’s a deep deep cut!

This 2016 (?) make is the bottom half of Vogue 9075, an awfully-cute jumpsuit that I muslined the top of exactly once before abandoning it forever. This makes me laugh, now, because looking back the legs are just two big rectangles, plus notches for pleats, and crotch curves! It certainly wasn’t necessary to spend folding money on just the legs! But at the time, it gave me confidence to try something new, and I guess that was worth the sale price I almost certainly paid for it. Also, whatta crotch curve. I’m a fan.

It’s comfortable without being at all droopy, hitting just above the high-tide mark for chub rub, and I’ve borrowed it for other big short wide pants so I guess I did get my money’s worth. Plus it’s actively encouraging to look back at a pattern that felt like a challenge several years ago and discover it’s wonderfully simple (like an egg!). This is also the pattern that introduced me to what I think of as a Vogue-specific inseam pocket – the opening starts several inches down, but it actually extends along the side seam from the waist, and it’s anchored in the waistband. I used white cotton to minimize show-through and because it was handy.

I topstitched the seam above the pocket opening, as well as stitching down the pleats, which was The Recommended Thing To Do when all the pear-shaped ladies hopped out of the fruit bowl and into this pattern several years ago. I’m not sure it made much difference, since I used drape-y rayon, but it might save on ironing? Excuse me capitalistic patriarchal beauty industry but REAL culottes have wrinkles! Okay fine, I skipped ironing. This isn’t the first time it’s come up, but FOLKS, sometimes summertime is WARMER THAN I LIKE.

Here’s a glimpse of those stitched-down pleats, as well as my ‘invisible’ zipper and my au natural wrinkles. I’m wearing this with one of my earliest CC Netties, and even though I think that new dress is just a wrap hack of that one Vogue dress (only me? PROVOCATIVE CONTENT), mama can draft a back scoop. It’s casually elegant, IMO, and my bra never shows. Witchcraft.

I still get wrinkles like this at my shoulder seams, unfortunately. I’m pretty sure it’s more to do with my relative lack of experience/how I handle the fabric, since I don’t see this on other people’s makes.

I’m 80% sure I picked up the rayon for the culottes at Michael Levine in L.A. – it was definitely the L.A. fashion district – and I think it ran me about $30? I might not choose it today, but it fits neatly into my summer wardrobe of blues and greens and whites. I don’t really like light colors on my bottom half too much, partly for aesthetic reasons (grounding colors on the part of me closest to the ground – it just makes sense!) and partly for practical ones. I’m working at the summer program at my school (everybody masked all the time; the kids are champs and they’re doing amazingly well, but if you have a student returning to in-person school in the fall I recommend a low-stakes practice day wearing their mask at home, because the kids who practiced seem to find it easier and more comfortable). Anyway, all that to say that my average day involves building forts out of sappy pine branches, digging in the garden, painting, bedazzling, running through sprinklers, kicking a muddy soccer ball, disinfecting disinfecting disinfecting, and hanging out in a field, so it helps if my bottoms hide stains.

But I can promise this pattern is up to all that, including our multiple high-nineties days.

All the breeze can fit in the legs…

Without sacrificing ideal ground-sitability!

And just between you and me, the woven scrap I used for the crotch finish of this Nettie, is this rayon! SECRET SIT-SPACE SYNERGY!

Stay well, fight the power, see you soon!

Pattern: Vogue 9075

Pattern cost: $6? $8? In that family?

Size: most likely 16 or 18 (the past is another country)

Supplies: 3 yards printed rayon, probably around $30

Total time: unknown

Total cost: call it $40

Stitch Twice

Recently, a woman biked past my house wearing a pink shirt and warm brown pants. I thought “I like that! Why don’t I have an outfit like that?” and so now I do*.

This is my second pair of Papoa pants in as many months and they helped me cement my new philosophy: sew everything twice. At least! I’m not going to throw good fabric after bad if a pattern/finished garment just doesn’t work for me, but I like sewing repeats and I want to prioritize that. It goes so quickly and smoothly the second time; my first pair of Papaos (including an hour and a half of pattern assembly) took me 7 ½ hours, while this second pair only took me 5 ¼. I shaved 45 minutes off my sewing time, mostly through knowing better when to finish seams. This includes the hidden tie end, which I remembered to finish BEFORE sewing it into the crotch seam, a pleasant change.

The flip side is that I’ve been feeling a bit boring lately. I’M not bored by my clothes, but I might be, I don’t know, measurably boring? So I’d also like to take more risks, for a given value of ‘risks’. Brace yourself: my back pocket – are you sitting down? – uses – do you have a heart condition? – the wrong side of the fabric. TA-DAAA.

Okay, so I’m inching past “tiny, basically unnoticeable risk” like a little inchworm. But someday I’ll wear pants on my arms with an Elizabethan ruff and one big sock and this will have been the gateway decision. Well. Maybe. 

If you take only one piece of advice from me (and who wouldn’t after that fashion prediction), let it be this: sew the butt twice. I sew the seat seam with each leg side up once. You can put these lines of stitching side-by-side or on top of each other. I don’t care. Secure your butt and thank me later!

This was especially important for this fabric, because the stitches tended to float on top, rather than sink in. It’s Kaufman fineline twill in Walnut (not the color of a walnut; I’d call it ‘old honey’ or ‘new penny’ or ‘timely chestnut’ or ‘I want that job where you get to name paint swatches’, which I felt very qualified for until my mother saw these and asked “Don’t you already have pants in that color?”. I hadn’t noticed. Last time I called it russet). Even though I used a fresh 80/12 needle and my machine purrs over heavier denims and twills, I could feel it working to punch through. I guess it’s a tighter weave – it felt, basically, like it had greater surface tension. It pressed like a sonuvagun though. Dang, I love cotton.

I made no real changes, except grading the waist facing to match my hip grading, which I forgot to do on my first pair. I also made the back patch and the tie openings a bit larger. I had hoped it would reduce wrinkling in the tie. It didn’t, but that hasn’t stopped me wearing these as often as possible!

I love this pattern, I love that there’s no interfacing or pocketing or zippers or buttons needed, I love that it was a one-bobbin project when I was low on coordinating thread, and I love my new discovery – that 3 yards of 45” wide fabric are enough yardage for my size! Hooray! I limited my fabric search the first time around to 54” wide fabric, but now the world is my (45” wide) oyster.

*Because you are as wise as an owl and as clear-eyed as a hawk, you’ve probably noticed that my shirt is, er, not actually pink. But because you are as discreet as a Bourke’s parakeet (known for your quiet and gentle nature) you were not going to point it out. Thank you. Anyway, what happened is, I ordered two rayon knits together – a pink one and this grid – and once they arrived I discovered ONCE AGAIN I had managed to online order a fabric the exact saturation and value of my skin tone. I don’t want to look like I’m wearing a Lia suit, so the pink fabric has been rehomed, and this is my spiritually pink shirt.

It’s made from luxuriously heavy bamboo rayon, which for some reason always feels a little damp. I am uneasily conscious that the reason might be: it’s damp? I try not to over-dry my clothes, but there’s such a thing as too much moderation. The pattern is the free Stellan tee, which I keep making because I find it perfect, this time with a scooped neckline – 1” wider at the neck (so 2” wider total) and 3” deeper. It’s a good start, but too conservative. Next time, more.  

More scooping. More crotch reinforcements. More repeat patterns. More, more, more!

We took these pictures on a wonderful cool evening between scattered thunderstorms. Thematically, I finished this blog post while listening to Rain; I just discovered Mika has an orchestral album and I am SOLD.  More orchestras!!

Wishing you more safety, health, and justice too. And more pants, if that’s your bag!

Pattern: RTS Papao pants

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 43 waist, 45 hips

Supplies: 3 yards of Kaufman 4.9 oz. Fineline twill in Walnut; $34.44, fabric.com; thread from stash

Total time: 5.25 hours

Total cost: $34.44

Pattern: Stellan tee

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: M, with 1″ wider neck, 3″ deeper front

Supplies: 1 yard of Telio Bamboo Rayon Jersey in Grid Print, fabric.com, $16.09; thread, Tags, $3.28

Total time: 2.25 hours

Total cost: $19.37

Perse-phony

First, a plug: if you’re shopping for fabric or yarn, and you don’t have a local fabric store, may I recommend mine?

And now, a post! Pants!!

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What, pants AGAIN? So soon? Yes – not to be A Bummer, but my school is closed for obvious reasons, so I have some extra time. And, I find pants are substantial/engrossing enough that sewing them is a mental and emotional booster. So yeah – more pants!

Actually, while I’m proud of these pants, I feel a little weird about sharing them. Because here’s the thing: they don’t have side seams, but they’re not Persephones. Despite the fact that everybody looks like a vixen in that pattern, I don’t own it. Every time I thought about buying it, I hesitated, because I wanted to figure it out all by myself.

I also want to respect intellectual property and the hard work of a small business owner. I know an individual can’t ‘own’ a side seam (or lack thereof) but in my corner of the sewing world it’s impossible to separate this look from Anna Allen’s pattern. I decided once my experiment was done, if I found anything lacking in my draft that a simple tweak couldn’t fix, I would buy the pattern and learn from it. And if I was satisfied with my version I would obviously still credit her design! Introducing: my Perse-phonies!

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Thank you, Anna Allen, for an amazing design! I had a ton of fun trying to recreate it, and hopefully this will be accepted as a loving homage to a red-hot pants pattern. YMMV, but here’s how I got there.

My hypothesis: since seams are essentially darts, I could change the angles of the front and back crotch seams to have larger intakes, and remove the side seam entirely. I started out with two patterns I’ve sewn a number of times – the Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts, and the Peppermint Magazine wide-leg pants. I worked with my copies of the patterns, both of which had already been graded and adjusted for my shape. I used the Fern shorts from the crotch up, and the Peppermint wide-legs for the in- and outseams. Also, I removed the Fern pockets and all seam allowances for this experiment.

On the Fern short front, I removed the width of the front dart and the difference between the side seam and a straight line from the front crotch, changing the angle to meet the new center front. I did the same thing for the back piece, but I kept the dart. Then I butted the pieces together, and traced off the inseam and outseam from the Peppermint pants by overlaying the patterns at the crotch point. Finally I smoothed the waistline, added back the seam allowances, and I had a pattern piece! This lengthened the front crotch, but that’s fine, as it would hopefully have a similar effect as my usual full stomach adjustment (it’s not quite that dramatically slanted in real life, but I wanted the modification to be clear in a small diagram).

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I sewed a pair of shorts as a wearable muslin, and actually it went great! I just had to widen and lengthen the darts by ½” total, and scoop out the bum seam a little. Meanwhile, the front was surprisingly perfect! :O Or, well, with one exception – I used the button fly directions from my Morgan jeans pattern, but I was a bit cavalier about buttonhole placement and they are SO DEEP under the fly overlap, I have to mount a spelunking expedition to button myself in and out. I sewed the shorts from some leftover scraps of Cone Mills denim and you will definitely see them some sunny day (if I can find the buttonholes again).

Since I didn’t add pockets, these came together shockingly fast. I can see why people make multiple pairs. They’re like the chocolate chip cookies of pants.

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I didn’t necessarily need another pair of black pants right now, but it’s the fabric I had on hand at a time when that’s an even more valuable consideration than usual, and it was always destined to be pants someday! The fabric wasn’t perfect for this experiment because it has a small amount of stretch, but I interfaced both sides of the waistband and all the crotch facings/shields. It’s sturdy. It’s practically armor (what sublimated feelings?)! It’s no longer available at Threadbear Fabrics, but it’s a true black USA-made denim with scanty stretch and the magical ability to pick up all the white fluff in my house. And I think it worked!

They’re a little loose, but I might sew them again in a non-stretch denim or canvas and then reevaluate. Luckily this shape is easy to adjust – I’d just remove a skinny column from the center of my leg pattern piece (probably about 1/4”). The big surprise was how LONG these were! I must have used my adjusted Peppermint pants piece (the one where I added 4” inches to the length), because these pants have a 2 1/8” double-fold hem and they’re not that cropped! I described them to my sister as “just cropped enough that you wonder if it was on purpose” and I stand by that! I could have trimmed, but nice deep hems are luxurious.

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The fit around the front crotch is a-ok, but I did make the front button placket (do you call it a placket on a crotch?) ridiculously long. I can get in and out of these pants by undoing the waistband and three underlap buttons, even though I sewed four, and I have a vestigial fifth buttonhole way down deep. I thought about tacking the overlap down in a couple places, but since these have broken in a little the overlap doesn’t want to pop open as badly as it used to (this is popped with encouragement).

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Speaking of broken in, I’ve worn these like 4 times in the last 10 days. What, nobody’s gonna see!

If you have some bottomweight yardage, interfacing, and a handful of buttons, these are a great q sew (Prof. BF and I calling this time ‘the q’, which I know sounds flip but for some reason we find it comforting)! These are things I usually have on hand, as opposed to pocketing and zippers – I’m always out of zippers – and I’ll definitely repeat this project. Maybe even this q. >_> We’ll see. 

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How do you feel about recreating patterns? Obviously most people would agree it’s different when copying a corporation versus an individual, but what about design? Do you feel differently if it’s complex or simple? Specific or universal? What if the business serves an underserved or underrepresented community? And what if a pattern is only available as a PDF and your access to printing is limited by a global pandemic (for example)?

I don’t have clear feelings about these questions myself. Well, I do have one clear feeling – a wish for you, your families, and your communities to be safe and well.

Pattern: Uhh…?

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: 10 at waist, 14 at hip (sizes synthesized from a mélange of patterns)

Supplies: 1.6 yards stretch denim in True Black, $24.40, Threadbare Fabrics; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 4.25 hours

Total cost: $24.40

Keeping Warm

As I mentioned in my last post, of the 18 new-to-me patterns I tried last year, two of them were free. The first was Peppermint Magazine wide leg pants, and the second was the Megan Nielsen Jarrah. I won the Jarrah as part of the Sew Twists and Ties festivities over on Cooking and Crafting last year, an event which is happening again right now!

It took me a while to find a heavy enough knit, but eventually I ordered this 100% cotton french terry from Joann Fabrics. I’m sure this pattern would make a cute lightweight sweatshirt, too, but I would really like to be warm please.

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Happily I’m as snug as a bug in this outfit! Both pieces are warm and easy to layer. I sewed view A of the Jarrah, the traditional sweatshirt view with sleeve and bottom bands.  

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I placed the stripes on the vertical for the sleeve bands. I wish now I had done the same for the bottom band! At the time, I was skimping on fabric. The yardage came out of the dryer so badly off-grain, it was actually trapezoidal. Because the stripes are mechanically woven, I just ignored the selvage and placed the grainline perpendicular to the stripes for cutting most of the pieces. Because of the wild skew, cutting the bottom band so the stripes ran vertically would have wasted a lot more fabric!

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Except for that, it was easy to work with. The cut edges were only a little curly and because it’s cotton I could iron with lots of heat and steam. This is a super straightforward and speedy sew, especially because of the drop shoulders and with the banded finish. The stripes make some nice angles!

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I’m showing the Jarrah sweater here with my third pair of Peppermint wide leg pants. I’ve tweaked these a little each time I’ve sewn them, and this time I tried a ¼” full stomach adjustment. I’m still getting drag lines pointing to my stomach, though!

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Plus, the pants came out big! Not way too big, but they’re for sure roomy. I’m not sure what happened this time – maybe I usually take a wider seam allowance on the outseams, or perhaps my full stomach adjustment had knock-on effects? I forgot to slightly stretch the waistband when pinning, which I usually do. Also, I swapped jeans-style pockets for patch pockets, which means no pocket stay. You can definitely see the roundness of my stomach more clearly but I like my round stomach. It’s where I keep my buttered toast. Anyway, I know this may sound like the ravings of an attic wife, but there’s something to be said for too-big pants – these are as comfortable as sweatpants. ❤

The color is hard to capture accurately – it’s called “Russet” (Kaufman 14 wale corduroy) but I grabbed these swatch images from a few different websites (fabric.com, robertkaufman.com, sistermintaka.com) and it looks a little different in each picture. In person I think it’s most like the third – more caramel than burnt orange, I guess?

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Inspired by Sew North’s carpenter-style Lander pants (also a house painter I surreptitiously stared at on the subway), I decided to add patch pockets to my Peppermint pants. I drew my own rather than using her measurements since it’s a different pattern. I got a little too cute, though, trying to duplicate the grainline of the pants perfectly on the patch pockets; it was a scant angle off the straight grain, and I should have just used the straight grain for neater pressing and stitching.

I also scrapped the hammer loop – I made one but I wasn’t wild about it, and I’m pretty sure it would have functioned as a child-towing loop, anyway. But hooray for extra pockets! I placed the back pockets by centering them on the back darts, with the top edge perpendicular to the darts. The height was just a smidge arbitrary. Okay fine, completely arbitrary!

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The patch pockets have bound openings – I made too much coordinating binding for my Tamarack but luckily it seems to go with anything!

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I’m a wee bit obsessed with the leg pocket.

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It’s holding my phone and my house keys and nothing pokes me in the stomach when I sit down! Nothin’!

My last change was simple as could be; I added 4” to the pant legs, then took a nice deep hem, so the finished length is equal to the unhemmed length of the pants as drafted. No breezes are finding my ankles. Cozy 4 life!

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As always, I can’t recommend this free pattern enough! I’m enjoying my Jarrah, too. This warm, colorful outfit will get me through January – just another 3 months of winter to dress for after that. But who’s counting? 🙂

Pattern: MN Jarrah

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: 10

Supplies: 1.5 yards of cotton french terry, $15.98, Joann; thread from stash

Total time: 2 hours

Total cost: $15.98

Pattern: Peppermint Wide-Leg Pants

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: F, with adjustments, including ¼” full stomach adjustment and 4” inches added to length

Supplies: 2.5 yards of Kaufman 14 Wale corduroy in Russet, $31.88, Gather Here; thread, button, zipper from stash

Total time: 6.25

Total cost: $31.88

Copying Cat

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Well, I went ahead and ‘borrowed’ this make from Cat in a Wardrobe. I guess the word I’m looking for is ‘plagiarism’? And also, maybe, ‘an escalating pattern of behavior’, because a few weeks ago I posted about my first pair of V8499 pants; those were directly inspired by Eli’s, but these are just plain copied. Except, I’m thicker and in flats!

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I referenced her sweater styling, too. Originally I was disappointed in my finished pants; I had hoped to wear them with fitted shirts tucked in (I was picturing a black knit camisole), but I didn’t like these with any of my tees or tanks. But pop on a squarish, pill-y, navy blue RTW sweater and we’re cooking with gas. I recently won the MN Jarrah in a blog raffle and I’ve got high hopes for view A – make-and-replace!

I had to adjust the pattern to better reflect my inspiration sources (i.e., copy more good). To guarantee safe transport past my juicy hips, I widened the back leg pieces. They join with a perfectly straight seam that’s parallel to the grainline, so I added an additional 3/8” seam allowance to each piece, for a total increase of 1.5”. Since the back facing is grown on that should have required no further adjustments.

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I ended up recutting a separate back facing since somehow while sewing I just lost the height there. I could have used narrower elastic, but I needed it to hold up all this railroad denim, and I had extra fabric anyway. Technically you could omit this back seam and cut the back leg as one piece, but I changed stripe direction there! My stripes alternate; center back = cross grain, side back = straight grain, side front = cross grain, center front = straight grain. So nowhere did I have to sew two parallel stripes together.

I also extended the legs by 4” so I could have big deep cuffs.

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The front leg pieces, as well as the back, are divided by vertical seam parallel to the grainline. The inseams and outseams narrow towards the hem, with a convex extension at the hem for turning. Here’s my technique for extending the leg:

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I lost some of the taper, so this pair of pants is straighter, wider, and less cocoon-like. I changed the angle, by the way, starting just below the knarts on the front side piece.

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My topstitching is a punchy blue. This was Professor Boyfriend’s idea! We were talking about potential thread colors over dinner (as you do), and he suggested neon. Michael’s had neon pink, orange, and yellow (all of which looked pretty rad, but none of which would play nice with my shirts), and also this super-saturated blue. I like the effect, though even after sewing with my double-stitch function, I mainly just catch a glimpse of blue from the corner of my eye.

The seams are all French-seamed and topstitched (I was surprised on re-reading the directions that Vogue doesn’t actually instruct you to finish your seams, but it’s so technically easy on this pattern! There’s 4 perfectly straight lines!). My denim was borderline too thick for this finish – flat-felled probably would have been better, but who feels like it? At the crotch point where all the thicknesses intersect I topstitched to within an inch of the intersection on each side because I wasn’t looking to die that day. So many layers! The gap is very much situated at my undercarriage so no one will ever have to know. I SAID NO ONE.

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Each of these pockets can fit a paperback novel. Or I guess, keys and a phone.

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I have a new pin! It’s a void chicken from Stardew Valley. Cute li’l red-eyed cluck-cluck laying me void eggs, gonna cook some Strange Buns with all that void mayo.

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Not pictured here: spring is creeping in, one yellow-green bud at a time. Don’t let my desaturated butt be the most colorful thing in the landscape, New England!

Pattern: V8499, view C

Pattern cost: $0.00 (second usage)

Size: 14, with added width and length

Supplies: 3 yards of 10 oz. railroad denim, Fabric.com, $31.29; thread, Michael’s, $1.25

Total time: 9.25 hours

Total cost: $32.54

High & Wide

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Jellyfish stew,

I’m loony for you,

I dearly adore you,

Oh, truly I do!

Did you know Jack Prelutsky wrote those words about high-waisted cropped wide-leg trousers? Okay, fine, he didn’t. But he should have! And he did! No, he didn’t. HOWEVER. My heart sings for the Peppermint Wide-Leg Pants! You should go download them right away, because they’re a) terrific and b) freeeeeeeee!

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Folks are buzzing about this silhouette, and a free pattern is a relatively low-stakes way to try it out. Mine are a little wider and a little longer than the pants on the pattern model, because after my recent Case of the Small Pants (the butler did it! Well technically, the butt did), I wasn’t taking any chances. And GUYS. The PROPORTIONS. I’m so HAPPY. I started with a size F for a 43” hip, knowing it would require fit adjustments, and it did – though none of them were actually difficult to implement! Follow meeee…

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I removed ½” from the top of each outseam, tapering to nothing at the bottom of the pocket, and increased the back dart intake by ½” each, for a total reduction of 3” in the waist. The pocket openings were not a huge fan of this somewhat extreme after-the-fact grading, but I really liked the width in the leg and didn’t want to size down overall, so I changed the paper pattern as below.

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I’m hopeful this will work for future versions! I also laughed in the face of new fly directions (again, I learned caution from my recent pants failure, I am wise now) and substituted those from the Ginger jeans pattern. This pattern has fly extensions cut separately, but after attaching them I did everything but the topstitching as per Closet Case. I liked the minimal topstitching the Peppermint pattern directed. That fly is WIDE, by the way!

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You can see the bottom edge of the pockets here – the pocket bag is 1 piece main fabric and 1 piece lining and it’s a bit bulky but honestly, I’m not mad, it sewed up so quickly and the pockets are nice and generous.

I bought a sandwich baggie of mismatched vintage leather buttons at a flea market several years ago and I finally got to use one for the waist closure! It’s been through the washer and dryer a handful of times and it’s doing great.

About the waistband. I hacked my 3” adjustment off of it a little too merrily and it ended up far too short in some places (the right front, i.e., the underlap) and too long in others (the left front/overlap). Probably installing the zipper differently contributed, too. Overall the waistband still fit, though, so I just sewed it on with the seams misaligned all higgledy-piggledy!

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Fabric buying note: I didn’t use the full 3 yards of 45” wide fabric requirement. I have about 29” inches of uncut yardage (as in, selvage-to-selvage, not a bit missing) left over. I ordered this Ventana twill from Imagine Gnats using a #sewfancypants discount code, woop woop. 🙂 I was totally smitten by this color and so postponed making these in corduroy, but I want to circle back to that idea at some point.

By the way, we took these pictures on a very warm winter’s day! Can you believe this is February in Boston? O_O Ignoring for the moment the primal terror of this sentence, I wore these pants on this 64° day last week and a 20° day the week before, and they were easy to style for both weather conditions.

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This is an official statement of RECOMMEND! Stay wide, amigos!

 

Pattern: Peppermint Wide-Leg Pants

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: F, with adjustments

Supplies: 3 yards of Ventana Twill 8 oz. in Old Blue, $36.58, Imagine Gnats; $1.91, thread, Michael’s

Total time: 6.25 hours

Total cost: $38.49